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January 8, 2010

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4,000 Expo taxis get ready to roll

THEY'LL look different than the usual Shanghai taxis: white with special logos.

And they'll be roomier.

Four thousand brand-new taxis for the 2010 World Expo will hit the roads next month. Most of them will be Volkswagen Touran cars, higher-level vehicles than the Volkswagen Santana cars that make up most of Shanghai's current taxi fleets.

About 350 will be Buick LaCrosse Hybrids, in tribute to the coming direction of the local taxi industry, according to Huang Rong, director of the Shanghai construction and transport commission.

They'll all be painted white and carry the logos of "World Expo 2010 Shanghai China" and Haibao, the mascot for the Expo.

The Expo taxis will mainly serve the tourists in the Expo site, said Huang.

"The 4,000 taxis will all be booked by phone or online reservations," Huang said.

Huang said the taxis will have access to the Expo site during the day and can help empty the site after 8 or 9pm.

Meanwhile, the training of the 8,000 Expo taxi drivers has started, the Shanghai Communications, Transport and Port Administration Bureau said yesterday.

The drivers are mainly selected from the five major taxi companies of the city, the bureau said.

Shanghai Qiangsheng Taxi Co Ltd, one of those companies, said they had selected 1,280 "Expo taxi drivers" from its 2,500 three-star drivers.

The company said the selected drivers are without traffic accidents or customer complaints in the last two years.

Shanghai Bashi Taxi Co Ltd, another major taxi fleet, said they had launched a branch company to better manage the cars and drivers for the Expo.

All of the taxis will have English service with interpreters on standby at the operating center of every taxi company when the World Expo opens in May.


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